For centuries, Egyptian cotton has been hailed the best and most sought-after bed linen, with retailers, movies and the world’s wealthiest individuals depicting the linen to be the epitome of luxury. The truth is, however, that Egyptian cotton has become an over-used term that now stretches across a range of fabrics and doesn’t necessarily mean you are buying high-quality sheets.
Let us debunk the common misconceptions about Egyptian cotton
The main myth is that all Egyptian cotton is luxurious and of the highest quality, which is definitely not the case.
As mentioned in our thread count myth buster blog, there are two types of cotton fibres – long and short staple. Long staple cotton creates a high-quality fabric with less exposed fibre ends and stronger threads, which can be developed into soft, durable linen. Short staple cotton, on the other hand, exposes fibre ends on the surface of the fabric, which can make it rough to the touch, less durable and cheaper to produce.
Both long and short staple cotton are grown in Egypt and products developed with either of these cotton grades can technically be labelled as ‘Egyptian Cotton’. There is therefore no guarantee that the linen you are buying is of the high-end variety.
Secondly, you would expect that all Egyptian cotton is grown in Egypt, right? Not quite.
Egyptian cotton originates from plants called Gossypium barbadense, which thrive along the River Nile in Egypt which has optimum conditions for this plant to produce long staple cotton fibres. However, Gossypium barbadense can also be found and cultivated in other countries and, in actual fact, India, China and the US are the world leaders in Egyptian cotton production – Egypt isn’t even in the top 10!
Unfortunately, even if you check that your cotton is created using long staple cotton grown in Egypt, you cannot be 100% sure it is of the highest standard.
Some manufacturers take a small amount of long staple Egyptian cotton, divide it into two ply to cut the staple short, and combine it with other cotton varieties. So, even if linen is labelled as ‘made with Egyptian cotton’, it could contain as little as 1% of long staple Egyptian cotton within the weave.
Rather than looking for the country of origin, we recommend considering four more important factors these being; thread count, the fabric weight and density, fabric composition and the weave employed in construction. Weighing up all if these important factors while aiming for long staple, single ply cotton products, will ensure that you can choose breathable and silky sheets for hotel guests.
For more information on what to look for when choosing the best linen for your hotel or guest accommodation, we have created a Hotel Linen Buyers Guide with 8 things to consider before you choose linen for your hotel guests.